Monday, November 6, 2023

More on Paper Formatting - from AAAS (the journal Science)


Instructions for preparing an initial manuscript

Format and style of main manuscript

Format and style of supplementary material

Preparation of figures

Science Citation Style

Information on manuscript types, including length constraints, can be found on our general information for authors page. The instructions below apply to an initial submission. For a manuscript submitted after peer review and revision, the same style guidelines apply, but we require slightly different file preparation – see instructions specific to a revised manuscript.

Format and style of main manuscript

For the main manuscript, Science prefers to receive a single, complete file that includes all figures and tables in Word’s .docx format (all versions after Word 2007 for PC and Word 2011 for Mac) – download a copy of our Word template here. The supplementary materials should be submitted as a single separate file in .docx or PDF format. To aid in the organization of supplementary materials, we recommend using or following the Microsoft Word template supplied here.

Click more... below or the link to the original page to see much more detailed guidance!

If you are using LaTeX, please convert your paper into .docx format. If this is not possible, please use our LaTeX template (available here) and upload a PDF version of your paper.

Use single spacing throughout the text, tables, figure captions, and reference list. Electronic files should be formatted for US letter paper (8.5 by 11 inches). Technical terms should be defined. Symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms should be defined the first time they are used. All tables, figures, and references should be cited in numerical order. For best results, use Times New Roman font. Avoid Symbol fonts if possible.

Manuscripts should be assembled in the following order:

(For easy accurate assembly, download a copy of our Word template here.)

Our manuscript submission system will attempt to extract metadata from your paper to facilitate the submission process. To improve machine readability, please identify the parts of your paper, even if you do not use our template. Please begin each section with the specific key words listed below, some of which are followed by a colon. Several of these headings are optional—for example, not all papers will include tables or supplementary materials. Please do not use paragraph breaks in the title, author list, or abstract.

One Sentence Summary:
Main Text:
References and Notes
List of Supplementary Materials:

Fig. #: (Begin each figure caption with a label—e.g., “Fig. 1”— as a new paragraph)
Table #: (Begin each table caption with a label—e.g., “Table 1”—as a new paragraph)

Titles should be no more than 96 characters (including spaces).

One-sentence summaries capturing the most important point should be submitted for Research Articles and Reviews. These should be a maximum of 125 characters and should complement rather than repeat the title

Authors and their affiliated institutions, linked by superscript numbers, should be listed beneath the title on the opening page of the manuscript. Symbols are used for equal contribution, present address, and corresponding author footnotes. Always use * to indicate the corresponding author(s). Other symbols should be as follows, in order of appearance in the author list (note that the symbols are not superscripted): †, ‡, §, ¶, #, **, ††, ‡‡, etc. These symbols should appear after the numbered affiliations in the author list (e.g., T. Crow1,2*, J. Russo3†). Science does not permit the designation of co-senior authors or co-first authors or the like; standard language (“These authors contributed equally to this work”) is used instead.

Abstracts of Research Articles should explain to the general reader why the research was done, what was found and why the results are important. They should start with some brief BACKGROUND information: a sentence giving a broad introduction to the field comprehensible to the general reader, and then a sentence of more detailed background specific to your study. This should be followed by an explanation of the OBJECTIVES/METHODS and then the RESULTS. The final sentence should outline the main CONCLUSIONS of the study, in terms that will be comprehensible to all readers. The Abstract is distinct from the main body of the text and thus should not be the only source of background information critical to understanding the manuscript. Please do not include citations or abbreviations in the Abstract. The abstract should be 125 words or less. For Perspectives and Policy Forums, please include a one-sentence abstract.

Main Text is divided into subheadings for Research Articles and Reviews. Subheadings should be descriptive clauses, not full sentences. Three levels of subheadings may be used if warranted; please distinguish them clearly (bold for level one, bold and italic for level two, and italic for level three; each heading should be set off by a line break). The manuscript should start with a brief introduction describing the paper’s significance. The introduction should provide sufficient background information to make the article intelligible to readers in other disciplines and sufficient context so that the significance of the experimental findings is clear. Technical terms should be defined. Symbols, abbreviations, and acronyms should be defined the first time they are used. All tables and figures should be cited in numerical order. All data must be shown in either the main text or the supplementary materials – or must be available in a permanent, publicly accessible repository. Associated DOIs and repository-specific accession codes should be disclosed in the Acknowledgments. References to unpublished materials are not allowed to substantiate significant conclusions of the paper.

References and Notes are numbered in the order in which they are cited: through (i) the main text, (ii) text boxes (if any), (iii) figure and table captions, (iv) reference notes and acknowledgments, and finally (v) supplementary materials. Place citation numbers within parentheses, italicized: (18, 19) (1820) (18, 20–22). There should be a single reference list that combines references cited in the main paper as well as those cited in the supplementary materials, and each reference should appear only once in the list. The full reference list will be included online in the HTML version of the main paper and in the supplementary materials PDF, but references cited only in the supplementary materials will be suppressed in print and in the main-paper PDF. Each reference should have a unique number; do not combine references or embed references in notes. Any references to in-press manuscripts at the time of submission should be given a number in the text and placed, in correct sequence, in the references and notes list. We do not allow citation of personal communications, and unpublished or “in press” references are not allowed at the time of publication. We do allow citations to papers posted at preprint servers (e.g., arXiv, bioRxiv). Any dataset that has a DOI must be cited in the reference list. If a dataset (with a DOI) is cited in the Acknowledgments, its reference number should be the last one before the supplementary references, unless the dataset has been cited earlier in the paper. Do not use op. cit.ibid., or et al. (in place of the complete list of authors’ names). Notes should be used for information aimed at the specialist (e.g., procedures) or to provide definitions or further information for the general reader that are not essential to the data or arguments. Notes can cite other references (by number). Journal article references should be complete, including the full list of authors, full titles, and inclusive pagination. Article titles are displayed in the HTML versions, but not in the print or the PDF versions of papers. See Science Citation Style below for details of citation style.

Acknowledgments should appear after the final numbered reference. This section should start by acknowledging non-author contributions and then should provide information under the following headings. Funding: This section should include complete funding information for all authors. Authors contributions: Authors should be identified by their initials in an itemized list of their contributions to the paper (e.g., J.S. performed experiments, Y.-S.Z. performed theoretical modeling, etc.). We encourage you to follow the CRediT taxonomy. Competing interests: Competing interests of any of the authors must be listed here (all authors must also fill out the Conflict of Interest form). Patent applications should be disclosed here as well, specifying inventor(s), institution(s), and reference number(s). When authors have no competing interests, this should also be declared. Data and materials availability: Any restrictions on materials, such as material transfer agreements (MTAs), should be disclosed here. Accession numbers to data deposited in a public database can be listed here, though it is preferable for data and code to be archived in a permanent repository that provides a citable DOI, which should then be included in the main reference list (numbered as the last item before the supplementary references) and cited here. If all data are in the paper and supplementary materials, include the sentence “All data are available in the manuscript or the supplementary materials.” All data, code, and materials used in the analysis must be available to any researcher for purposes of reproducing or extending the analysis. For more information, please refer to the “Data and Code Deposition” section of our Editorial Policies.

List of Supplementary Materials. After the Acknowledgments, list your supplementary items as shown in the example below.

Supplementary Materials
Materials and Methods
Supplementary Text
Figs. S1 to S4
Tables S1 and S2
References (2632)
Movie S1

Tables should be included after the references and should supplement, not duplicate, the text. They should be called out within the text and numbered in the order of their citation in the text. The first sentence of the table caption should be a brief descriptive title. The title should be applicable to the table as a whole; it should not include citations of references, figures, or other tables. Every vertical column should have a heading, consisting of a title with the unit of measure in parentheses. Units should not change within a column. Footnotes should contain information relevant to specific entries or parts of the table, labeled with symbols in the following order: *, †, ‡, §, ¶, #, **, etc. Reference citations in a table should follow Science’s standard format (italic number in parentheses) and refer to entries in the main reference list; full references should not be embedded in or below the table.

Figure captions should be single-spaced in numerical order. A short figure title should be included in bold-face type as the first line of the caption. The title should be applicable to the figure as a whole; it should not include citations of individual figure panels, references, tables, or other figures. No single caption should be longer than 200 words. Nomenclature, abbreviations, symbols, and units used in a figure should match those used in the text. Distinct figure panels should be labeled with uppercase letters (A, B, etc.) and should each be described in order within the caption.

Figures should be called out within the text and numbered in the order of their citation in the text. For initial submission, figures should be embedded directly in the .docx or PDF manuscript file. See below for detailed instructions on preparation of and preferred formats for your figures.

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Format and style of supplementary materials

Supplementary materials (SM) are posted permanently at the Science website, are linked to the manuscript, and are freely available. Supplementary materials must be essential to the scientific integrity and excellence of the paper. The supplementary materials are subject to the same editorial standards and peer-review procedures as the main paper. To aid in the organization of supplementary materials, we recommend using or following the Microsoft Word template supplied here.

In general, the supplementary materials may comprise:

  • Materials and Methods: The materials and methods section should provide sufficient information to allow replication of the study. It may be cited at relevant points in the text as “see materials and methods” or using a citation number that refers to a note in the reference list that reads “Materials and methods are available as supplementary materials.” Study design should be described in detail and descriptions of reagents and equipment should facilitate replication (for example, source and purity of reagents should be specified, there should be evidence that antibodies have been validated, and cell lines should be authenticated). Clinical and preclinical studies should include a section titled Experimental Design at the beginning of the materials and methods in which the objectives and design of the study, as well as prespecified components, are described. Statistical methods must be described with enough detail to enable a knowledgeable reader with access to the original data to verify the results. The values for NP, and the specific statistical test(s) performed for each experiment should be included in the appropriate figure caption or main text. Please see our editorial policies for additional guidelines for specific types of studies, as well as further details on reporting of statistical analysis.
  • Supplementary Text: This section should provide additional information regarding control or supplemental experiments, field sites, observations, hypotheses, etc., that bear directly on the arguments of the main paper. Further discussion or development of arguments beyond those in the main text is not permitted in supplementary text. This section can be referred to in the main text as “supplementary text” (reference note not required).
  • Figures: Supplementary figures are those that cannot be accommodated in the main paper but are integral to the paper’s arguments. Supplementary figures should meet the same standards as main-paper figures. These are numbered starting at 1, with the prefix “S”—e.g., fig. S1 (note the lowercase “f”). All figures should be called out in the main text. Reference notes are not required. See below for detailed instructions.
  • Tables: Supplementary tables are extensive data tables that are useful in assessing the arguments of the main paper. These are numbered starting at 1, with the prefix “S”—e.g., table S1 (note the lowercase “t”). These data should be in a standard machine-readable format (e.g., csv, tsv, json, or xml) and should be accompanied by a brief explanation of their structure and meaning.
  • Multimedia files: Video clips should be saved in MPEG-4 (.mp4) (preferred) or QuickTime (.mov) container format using H.264 video encoding. Animated GIFs are not Authors should opt for the minimum frame size and number of images that are consistent with a reasonably effective on-screen presentation. Aim to stay within 640 × 480 or 1280 × 720 resolution. Do not exceed full HD frame size (1920 × 1080), as this makes the files quite large and will cause them to be transcoded/sized to an acceptable resolution. For audio files, please use .wav, .mp3, or .m4a format, with a bit rate of 160 kb/s. Video, audio, or other multimedia files should be submitted with accompanying captions (and credit information when applicable).
  • References only cited in the supplementary materials should be included at the end of the reference section of the main text, and the reference numbering should continue as if the supplementary materials are a continuation of the main text, with no duplicate entries.

At both initial submission and the revision stage, authors should submit the supplementary sections, materials and methods, text, tables and figures, as a single docx or PDF file that does not exceed 50 MB. The text and tables should be single spaced, figures should be individually numbered, and each figure caption should be placed immediately beneath the corresponding figure, on the same page if possible. Supplementary multimedia or large data files that cannot be included in the main supplementary materials file should be uploaded as auxiliary supplementary materials (up to 10 files, total size limited to 25 MB) or movies (limited to 50 MB each). If you have files essential to the evaluation of your manuscript that exceed these limits, please contact See Submitting your manuscript for further details on how to submit

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Preparation of figures

Creating your figures: It is best to create your figures as vector-based files, such as those produced by Adobe Illustrator. Vector-based files will give us maximum flexibility for sizing your figures properly without losing resolution, as they can be altered in size while maintaining high-quality resolution. We cannot accept PowerPoint files or files that are not readable by Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. When using Photoshop, please keep all labeling on a separate, editable layer if possible. To keep file sizes reasonable, please save images at a resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi) for initial submission. A higher resolution applies for figures submitted at the revision stage – see instructions for preparing a revised manuscript. Digital color images should be submitted as CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) rather than RGB (red, green, blue). For helpful tips, please refer to our figure preparation guide.

Paper: The width of figures, when printed, will usually be 5.7 cm (2.24 inches or 1 column), 12.1 cm (4.76 inches or 2 columns), or 18.4 cm (7.24 inches or 3 columns). Bar graphs, simple line graphs, and gels may be reduced to a smaller width. Symbols and lettering should be large enough to be legible after reduction [a reduced size of about 7 points (2.5 mm) high, and not smaller than 5 points]. Avoid wide variation in type size within a single figure. In laying out information in a figure, the objective is to maximize the space given to presentation of the data. Avoid wasted white space and clutter.

General guidelines

  • The figure’s title should be at the beginning of the figure caption, not in the figure itself. In general, explanatory text within the figure should be minimized relative to the text in the caption, because it is easier to fix typos and other errors in the caption.
  • Include the figure’s identifying number (e.g., “Fig. 1”) on the same manuscript page that includes the figure.
  • Keys to symbols, if needed, should be as simple as possible and positioned so that they do not needlessly enlarge the figure. Details can be put into the captions.
  • Use solid symbols for plotting data, if possible (unless data overlap or there are multiple symbols). Size symbols so that they will be distinguishable when the figure is reduced (6 point minimum). Line widths should be legible upon reduction (minimum of 0.5 point at the final reduced size).
  • Panels should be set close to each other, and common axis labels should not be repeated.
  • Scales or axes should not extend beyond the range of the data plotted.
  • Use scale bars in place of, or in addition to, magnifications. Do not use minor tick marks in scales or grid lines. Avoid using y-axis labels on the right that repeat those on the left.

Color-mix and contrast considerations

  • Avoid using red and green together, as this creates problems for individuals with color-deficient vision.
  • Do not use colors that are similar in hue to identify different parts of a figure.
  • Avoid using grayscale.
  • Use white type and scale bars over darker areas of images.
  • Units should be metric and follow SI convention.

Typefaces and labels

Please observe the following guidelines for labels on graphs and figures:

  • Use a sans-serif font whenever possible (Helvetica is preferred).
  • Simple solid or open symbols reduce well.
  • Label graphs on the ordinate and abscissa with the parameter or variable being measured, the units of measure in parentheses, and the scale. Scales with large or small numbers should be presented as powers of 10.
  • Avoid the use of light lines and screen shading. Instead, use black-and-white, hatched, and cross-hatched designs for emphasis.
  • Capitalize only the first letter in a label, not every word (however, proper nouns should always be capitalized).
  • Units should be included in parentheses. Use SI notation. If there is room, write out variables – e.g., Pressure (MPa), Temperature (K). Seconds should be abbreviated as “s”, not “sec”; minutes should be abbreviated as “min.”; and hours should not be abbreviated.
  • Variables are always set in italics or as plain Greek letters (e.g., PT, μ). The rest of the text in the figure should be plain or bold text.
  • In a color figure, type atop a color region should be in bold face. Avoid using colored type.
  • When figures are assembled from multiple gels or micrographs, a line or space should indicate the border between two original images.
  • Use leading zeros on all decimals – e.g., 0.3, 0.55 – and report only significant digits.
  • Use capital letters for part labels in multipart figures – A, B, C, etc. These should be 10 pt and bold in the final figure. When possible, place part labels in the upper left corner of each figure part; if a part is an image, set labels inside the perimeter so as not to waste space.
  • Avoid subpart labels within a figure part. Instead, maintain the established sequence of part labels [e.g., use A, B, C, D, E instead of A, B, C(a), C(b), C(c)]. If use of subpart labels is unavoidable, use lowercase letters (a, b, c), prime symbols, or lowercase Roman numerals (i, ii, iii). Use numbers (1, 2, 3) only to represent a time sequence of images.
  • When reproducing images that include labels with illegible computer-generated type (e.g., units for scale bars), omit such labels and present the information in the caption instead.
  • Sequences may be reduced considerably, so the typeface in the original should be clear. There should be about 130 characters and spaces per line for a sequence occupying the full width of the printed page and about 84 characters and spaces per line for a sequence occupying two columns.

Modification of figures: Science does not allow certain electronic enhancements or manipulations of micrographs, gels, or other digital images. Figures assembled from multiple photographs or images, or non-concurrent portions of the same image, must clearly indicate the separate parts with lines between them. Linear adjustment of contrast, brightness, or color must be applied to an entire image or plate equally. Nonlinear adjustments must be specified in the figure caption. Selective enhancement or alteration of one part of an image is not acceptable. In addition, Science may ask authors of papers returned for revision to provide additional documentation of their primary data.

Permissions: Images that have been obtained, reproduced, and/or adapted from elsewhere must be accompanied by proof of permission from the copyright holder, and the credit line must be provided in the manuscript. If you are unable to obtain permission, the image cannot be used. If previously published data are used to create an entirely new graphic, the source of the data must be credited in the manuscript.

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Science Citation Style

General comments

Author names: Use initials first for all authors, (separated by a space) for given names; spell out family names in full. Use commas (not “and”) to separate author names. Do not use punctuation before name suffixes (e.g., Jr., 3rd, III).

Journal articles

Titles of cited articles should be included, followed by a period. Journal titles should be in italics; volume numbers should be in bold. (If there is no volume number, use the publication year in its place.) Do not place a comma before the volume number or before any parentheses. Provide the full page range, with numbers separated by an en dash. If the publication does not have continuous page numbers, use the article number (or citation number) instead of the page range. Indicate the publication year in parentheses. End each listing with a period. Do not use “ibid.” or “op. cit.


1. A. B. Author, C. D. Author, Example article title. Example Journal Name 55, 100–108 (2021).
[with page range]

2. A. B. Author, C. D. Author, Example article title. Example Journal Name 346, e12345 (2022).
[with article number instead of page range]

3. A. B. Author, C. D. Author, Example article title. Example Journal Name 17 (suppl. 1), 62–66 (2020).
[with supplement number]

4. S. Author, M. Author, H. Author, Example article title. Example Journal Name DOI (2022).
[early online publication/epub ahead of print (use DOI instead of volume and page/article numbers)]

Whole books

For edited books, insert the editor name(s), followed by “Ed.,” or “Eds.,” before the title. Italicize the book title and use “title case” (see examples below). After the title, provide (in parentheses) the publisher name, edition number (if any), and year.


1. G. Y. Author, Example Book Title (Publisher, 2022).
[basic example]

2. X. Editor, Y. Z. Editor, Q. Editor, Eds., Example Book Title (Publisher, 2021).
[with editors rather than authors] 

3. M. Author, T. Author, Example Book Title (Publisher, ed. 3, 2022).
[with edition number]

4. Organization Name, Example Book Title (Organization Name, 2021).
[organization as both author and publisher]

Book chapters

Style is as above (for whole books), except that “in” appears before the title, and the names of the editors appear after the title. The chapter title may be provided before the book title; enclose chapter titles in quotes and use initial caps. After the information in parentheses, provide the complete page number range (and/or chapter number) of the cited material.


1. A. Author, Z. Author, “Optional: Example chapter title” in Example Book Title (Publisher, 2022), pp. 300–350.
[with chapter title]

2. T. D. Author, U. R. Author, in Example Book Title, F. Editor, Ed. (Publisher, 2021), pp. 37–71.
[with editor]

Books in series

If the book is part of a series, indicate the series title after the book title. The volume number is optional.


1. A. Author, B. Author, Example Book Title, vol. 5 of Example Series Title (Publisher, 2022).

Technical reports and monographs

The title should be in quotes and should have initial caps. After the title, provide the following in parentheses: report number (if applicable), publisher name, and year. A URL may be provided as well. Monographs in series may be treated as journals.


1. G. B. Author, “Example report title” (Tech. Rep. ABCD-12-34, Publisher, 2022).
[with report number]

2. F. Author, “Example report title” (Publisher, 2020); URL.
[with URL]

3. “Example report title” (Tech. Rep. 83902, Publisher, 2021).
[no author]

Meetings, conferences, and proceedings

If published, style is same as for book references. If unpublished, include the title of meeting, location, date(s), and sponsoring organization (if not part of the meeting name). Abstracts may be cited by abstract number (if applicable).


1. A. Author, X. Author, G. Author, in Proceedings of the 2019 Example Conference on Interesting Topic (Publisher, 2022), pp. 6645–6649.

2. A. Z. Author, “Example conference paper” in Proceedings of the 2021 Example Conference on Interesting Topic (Publisher, 2021), abstr. 875.
[published, paper title and abstract number provided]

3. M. Author, paper presented at the 25th Annual Meeting of Example Organization, Washington, DC, 10 to 13 October 2022.


Name the university but not the degree. Name the city if the university could be mistaken for another. It is optional to include the thesis title.


1. B. Author, thesis, Example University (2021).
[no title]

2. R. Author, “Example title on an interesting topic,” thesis, Example University, Washington, DC (2020).
[with title and city]


For arXiv, embed the URL in arXiv:identifier, but do not include the word “Preprint.” For bioRxiv and others, include “[Preprint]” after the article identifier, and insert the DOI (preferably in URL format) at the end.


1. J. V. Author, E. Author, D. F. Author, Example preprint title. arXiv:1111.12345 [category] (2021).

2. D. Z. Author, K. Author, U. Author, M. R. Author, Example preprint title. bioRxiv 0123456 [Preprint] (2020).


List the version number, if applicable. Provide a DOI or other persistent identifier (preferably in URL format).


1. D. Author, Example dataset title, version 1, Example Repository Name (2021);


Include the version number (if applicable). Provide a DOI (preferably in URL format) or other persistent identifier. If a persistent identifier does not exist, include a URL to where the software exists. If there is an article that describes the software, it should be cited in addition to the software itself. Do not cite the article instead of the software. A consensus guide to citing software, by a working group of multiple publishers, can be found here.


1. A. Author, B. Author, Example software title, version 2, Example Repository Name (2022);